Monday, June 24, 2013

A no-wind dress

A few weeks ago I made up McCall's 6745, in the halter dress view. I don't usually make halter styles, not because of the open back (although those can be hard to fit), but because usually they are too cleavagey in front. This one didn't look too low on the envelope, though, so I gave it a try.

I am very happy with the results!
 I got this print at a really yucky ARC thrift store on Colfax (those of you live in Denver, the phrase "East Colfax" says it all).  It was half off day and I got this fabric for $2. There was about 8 yards of it!! AND, it's vintage SILK!! At least it has silk in it. By the way, you can tell a fabric is vintage when it comes in a 35" width. Modern fabrics come in 45" or 55" or 60". This pattern requires a crazy amount of fabric (5 yards if you self-line the bodice) so I pulled this fabric for it because it's the only chunk I had enough of. Most of that yardage is in this super full pleated skirt! No wearing this on windy days!! ;)
 The fit is perfect for me right out of the package, which is good, because I wasn't in the mood to make a muslin. I'm lucky it worked out because I would have been bummed to waste this fabric.

Here is a close up of the piping and the print:
I went to two stores for matching piping. JoAnn's actually had this color--could it BE more perfect (extra points if you read that in Chandler's voice :) but it was clearanced out and they only had one package. I needed two! So I grabbed the matching bias tape and a couple yards of cording and made my own to supplement. I do have some tricks for applying piping. Probably nothing that's not out there on the Internet already, but I would be happy to put together a post on that if anyone expresses interest in the comments. I think piping adds so much, I'd like to experiment more with it.
I think this will make a great July 4th dress!! And maybe I'll wear it on our anniversary date too. Hopefully, I'll have a few more occasions to wear this before Summer is over :)

Speaking of being in no mood for muslins, I began this pattern last night without one. I lucked out again, because I think the fit is working out. Whew! It's the same Fashion Star line that I just made the black lace shorts out of, so I was pretty confident it would be a similar fit. Maybe I'm naive, haha.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What a weekend

We were so busy in the best of ways this past weekend. On Saturday, we celebrated Casey's grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary and most of the family was there. Here they are with most of their great grandchildren. What a legacy, huh!?
The venue was so beautiful, I had a photographer cousin snap this photo of Casey and I because the view was just perfect...

 I think Layla was born to live in the mountains somewhere, she played on those grounds until I was worn out just watching her.
 Father's Day was lovely too! We gave Casey this Darth Vader #1 Dad shirt and also The Avengers on Blu-Ray. The kids made him cards and pictures and I made him his favorite cookies in the world that afternoon--with gluten and shortening and sugar and everything! ;) And then my mom babysat so we could go see the new Superman movie, which is as good as they say.

Casey's mom and dad stayed in town and came to church with us on Sunday, so it was special for these two to be together on Father's Day:
And this is the most awesome pic I have ever seen:
In other news, I have been tackling a house chore that I've been avoiding and dreading for three years of living here. When we moved in, we took up all the carpet in the house to reveal the oak floors, which were in great shape, considering. However, the carpet glue and years of paint layers left the molding in pretty terrible shape. I kept going back and forth on whether or not I could tackle this job (there are a LOT of moldings!) or if I should wait til our stuff is moved out and hire it done. Last week, I just decided to see how far I could get and I started with the stairs, which were in the worst shape by far. They all looked like this:
 And three days later, they are absolutely beautiful!! I repainted the risers white too, so they look so clean and pretty.
I'm glad I did it and I wish I would have done it a long time ago, but I literally painted every single wall in this big house in that first year and I was not in any hurry to paint any more! Now I'm motivated to continue, though. I might not be able to do them all, but I'll see where I get. I'm half done with the upstairs hallway! For such a minor part of a house, nice looking moldings sure do make a big difference.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

more shorts

I am really happy with this next pair of shorts. It's no secret that lace is really "in" this season, but being 31 and not 21, I try to be careful about which laces I can pull off. Granny chic is not a good look for me ;) But, I snatched up an edgier black lace fabric at Denver Fabrics a few trips ago, thinking it would make a nice skirt for Christmastime. I had so much of it, though, that I decided to replicate some of the cute lace shorts I'm seeing around right now and I'll still have enough for a black skirt at Christmas!

I used McCall's 6756, a brand new Fashion Star pattern and exactly what I was looking for.

I inserted a perfect front fly too! Yay, me. Here's a pic of the lace fabric and what it looks like:
I like how the scallops hang over the hem, these shorts feel classy and feminine and I have several tops to wear with them, which I try to think about when making basics like shorts. I used solid black cotton for the underlining. I think it would be pretty to use a color for my Christmas skirt later. Or silver! That would be pretty too. What do you think?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Paleo trial and error report

I haven't mentioned it in awhile, but I am still adhering to a (mostly) Paleo way of eating. You can read more about the whys of that in this post. I did quit for a few weeks, but started feeling cruddy and went back to it. Also, our 8-year-old daughter Natalie was complaining frequently of stomach-aches and since she's no stranger to food sensitivities, I cut dairy and gluten from her diet also. The stomach-aches disappeared. Then we went out of town for a few days for an Army "Family Wellness Retreat", where the food was contracted by the hotel. All the kids' meals were things like Mac & Cheese, chicken nuggets and cheeseburgers. By the second day, her stomach was hurting and she couldn't even eat her dinner. So, now I know! My stomach wasn't thrilled after that trip either, even though the grown-up meals weren't quite as gluten-filled. I'm sure they were cooked in butters and oils and things I no longer eat, though. We were so happy to come home (the full-size bed in that hotel had a lot to do with that too, haha!)

Aaaaanyway, now that I've been doing this for awhile and have collected some great books and resources, I thought I'd share the ones I like best and a few I don't like much at all ;)
I only keep cookbooks I use and I do prefer using books to online recipes, although I do that also. Cookbooks are just so pretty, though, ya know?? Such is the case with Gather: the art of Paleo entertaining. I just got this one recently and it's the most beautiful cookbook I have ever laid eyes on! The recipes are great too, I can't wait to try out some more. These cute little flapjacks were really tasty:
The kids called them mini pancakes and dipped them in pure maple syrup.

At the same time I ordered that book, I also bought Eat Like a Dinosaur. This one is invaluable if you have a family and are trying (like me) to take the kids off of the normal kid fare and closer to a gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free way of eating. I am there with Natalie, but am still working on it with the others. We will get there! Slowly, but surely. We made the graham crackers from this book last week and they made a ton and were really yummy. I even made P.B.&J.'s with them.
Hands down, my most favorite and most-used Paleo cookbook so far, though, is The Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook. It was the first one I bought and I have used the heck out of it! It has tons of kid-friendly ideas and recipes and everything I've made has been excellent and well-received. My favorite is her curry chicken salad, which I eat on cucumber slices and the kids eat between green apple slices, sandwich style.  I make this amazing mango salsa from her book too and we eat in on fish or chicken or chips (told ya we are *mostly* Paleo ;) or just by itself. The whole book is just awesome; if you're considering starting to clean up your diet, this is the book you should start with!
Next up, the New York Times best seller, Practical Paleo . This is more than a cookbook, it has a TON of info for people who are getting started and/or dealing with health issues that can be solved through diet. I haven't bought my own copy yet because it's pricey, although it seems to be coming down on Amazon, so I'm going to order it. It's funny, because when I first started eating this way, I flipped through this book at the store and thought most of it looked complicated or not-tasty. Then months later I got it from the library and everything in it looks tasty and easy. Ha! This just goes to show that life change is a process. Don't overwhelm yourself and try to turn your diet upside down overnight!! That's a recipe for failure and frustration, in my opinion. 
Just the other day, I made the lemon blueberry muffins from this book and they were excellent, my family thought they were dessert, haha! That could be because I whipped up some homemade lemon curd (which, yes, has sugar in it--there's that *mostly* caveat again). 
These sweet potatoes are also from this book... I ate the leftovers on eggs the next day. Yummy. 
Sweet potatoes are a definitely a family favorite. I think these chips are from my favorite book, Everyday Paleo, but almost all Paleo cookbooks contain Sweet Potato chip recipes. We fry them in coconut oil and then lightly salt them. Soooooo good, they disappear like crazy whenever I make them. 

Now for the few cookbooks I have not had good luck with. Paleo Slow Cooking looked so promising, but I've made about five things from it and only one was good (the chicken curry). I feel bad saying that. To be fair, I haven't tried any of the soups, which the slow cooker is best at. Soup and chicken. Other meats just aren't as good cooked this way, I guess. I even tried the berry crisp, but it was super bland. And our palettes aren't sugar-loaded either, so that's saying something. 

I also picked up The Gluten-free Almond Flour Cookbook . I cannot even comment on the recipes in this book--they all look delicious and probably are--but I haven't tried them. In the front of the book, she says that only certain brands of almond flour and coconut flour work for her recipes and incidentally, the ones I have access to do not work. I could order them online, but I don't feel like I should have to work that hard or plan ahead that much. That may seem dumb. But, we only use cash for our weekly needs, so I really do have to plan to order things online. Eventually, I probably will, especially for birthday parties and entertaining purposes. But, for now, the other books have enough "treats" in them that I don't think ordering food online is really necessary. 

And one more, Well Fed hasn't been very helpful. It's very clear that this couple has no kids. The meal recipes are not very kid-friendly at all and most recipes require a make-ahead of several other of the recipes. Ideal for people who work, I think, and can spend the weekend on the "weekly cook-up", but too much prep and complication for me. 

Whew! This is a long post! If you've stuck with me thus far, I'd like to share that most of what we eat every day is a non-recipe. You should have seen the bunless burger I ate last night--topped with BBQ sauce, lettuce, tomato, red onion, a boiled egg and sliced avocado. Mmmmm, am I making you hungry? I also keep frozen salmon patties on hand for similar lunches:
That's lemon garlic aioli on top. 

And egg toppings?? Don't even get me started. Casey and I are really diggin' Pepperocinis lately. SO yummy on eggs, along with halved grape tomatoes and sliced up salami. 

Okay... time to go make some lunch :-D 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Summer. Finally!

Since June hit, it feels like Summer has finally arrived! School is out, the pool is IN, woohooooo!!

However, it is reeeeaaaaally starting to hit me that we are moving in less than three months. Across the country. Thankfully, I'm not stressing (today, haha), but knowing this is the last Spring in our beloved house here has had me savoring every moment.

One of my favorite things about Spring at our house is watching our snowball tree in the back yard come to life. I can't help but take pictures of it each year because it's just so beautiful.

When we first bought this place (our first house), we'd been living in my parents' patio home, which we are still SO thankful for because it allowed Casey to get his degree, which has been unbelievably worth the time, stress and five years of being flat broke all the time, all while having three babies in three-and-a-half years. Seriously... IT IS WORTH IT! Anyway, the patio home had a very small cement back "yard" and the neighborhood had no sidewalks. Our house now has a huuuuuge backyard with an awesome deck, surrounded by trees and a play house to boot. We were so happy to have some outside play space. And we still enjoy it so much. Holy cow, I'm totally tearing up because I'm so thankful for our time here and because it's so hard to leave! Ack!

Those are my kiddos now. And because I'm feeling this nostalgic, here's some blasts from the past...
And one of my all-time favorites ever:
And I'm praying that whoever rents our wonderful house will love it and use it as we do!

Monday, June 3, 2013

I made shorts!!!

Well, I have really been branching out in my sewing lately! I have seen some pretty cute printed shorts out there. A bit classier of a style than jean shorts. Just check out this J.Crew page to see what I mean. But, not only do I not want to pay J. Crew prices, I wanted shorts just a little longer than I usually find in stores. So, at the last JoAnn's sale, I bought a couple a couple of Lisette bottom weights on clearance (which was an additional half off). So, each of these shorts cost about $4 to make! I already had the pattern and the zippers (because if ever there's a bag o' zippers at a thrift store, I do not pass it by, I buy it ;)

Here's my first pair:
 And with a different shirt:
 The pattern is Simplicity 1617. I've already made the skirt on the same pattern, so I have more than gotten my 99 cents out of this one, ha!

Here's my second pair:
 I wasn't sure I had any tops to go with either of these, but once I took a lot, it turned out I had a few for each pair! Actually, though, this last one I am not liking in the pictures. I don't think it's the best fit for me, so it might go in the giveaway pile. See?? Everyone should take pictures of themselves in their clothes if they really want to know what they look like. Ha!
 This pattern had no pockets, so I drafted some based on a different skirt pattern I have. On the green pair, I used a cute Heather Bailey cotton for the pocket lining. It's a cute surprise in there :)
 And for the second pair, I added a ruffle, just like the pockets on my favorite yellow corduroy skirt I made last Fall! So cute.
I did not photograph the rear view, but the fit back there is perfect! Also, I tried out the fabric glue stick method for the zipper instead of hand basting in it, which was previously the only way I could get them in right! The glue was awesome, it worked like a champ and did not gunk up my needle.

I'm super proud of both of these because I took extra time in making a muslin (in two different patterns, actually--I was determined!) and the extra time paid off because I feel like I can use this as a base for all kind of shorts and pants! I have one more pair in mind to make, so hopefully I'll be sharing those soon!